Alumnus Joshua Tindel’s journey from service to care

Lamar University alumnus Joshua Tindel’s journey from southeast Texas to the Navy and back to academiaJoshua Tindel is marked by resilience, dedication, and a commitment to service.

After graduating in May of 2024 with a degree in Nursing, Joshua has integrated his military experience with his passion for healthcare. His journey is an inspiring story on the values of perseverance and community service, reflecting both his personal growth and professional aspirations.

Through his volunteer work at the Crisis Center of Southeast Texas and his dedication to helping others, he exemplifies compassion and leadership -- qualities that define both his military and nursing careers.Lamar University, with its strong ties to the southeast Texas community, is a clear choice for many local students, including Joshua.  

“I chose Lamar University because of how rooted it is in this community. I was born in Nederland and raised in Port Neches. My entire early life was spent in southeast Texas, and so Lamar was the obvious next step after high school,”Tindel said. 

His initial journey at Lamar took a significant turn when he decided to enlist in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman after his first year. Joshua’s decision to join the military was driven by the pursuit of independence and adventure.  

“I wanted an opportunity to be independent, to move away and have new experiences. I spent my bootcamp marching through snowstorms in Great Lakes, Illinois,” he recalled.  

His training as a corpsman was backed by specialized training in preventive medicine at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, which prepared him for his career as a nurse. 

“I served as the base health inspector and conducted regular inspections of restaurants, daycares, gymnasiums, pools, and living quarters, and I provided coverage to nearby installations as well,” Tindel said. 

While Joshua's career in the military began to progress, his job role expanded significantly 

“As I moved up in the ranks, I began to take on more collateral duties and responsibilities,” he said. “I received training and was appointed the Safety, Customer Service, and Biohazardous Waste Representative for the clinic. The most rewarding and impactful of these, however, was becoming a trained and certified Department of Defense Sexual Assault Victim Advocate.” 

Once Joshua’s enlistment was over, he found his way back to Lamar University.  

“After my enlistment was over, I found my way back to Lamar. It was a cathartic experience to come back over 10 years later. Some things had changed: the Setzer Center was remodeled and now there is a food court. But a lot of things were exactly as I remembered them. Even my original Cardinal ID still worked, and I would get some puzzled looks by the Recreation Center staff as I checked in. Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal,” he said. 

As a hospital corpsman, he received thorough training in numerous medical fields, which paved the way for his future career in nursing. 

“We were trained in nearly all aspects of medicine,” Tindel said. “This included courses in emergency medicine, pharmacology, laboratory, and even nursing classes.” 

Returning to Lamar in 2020, he initially pursued Chemical Engineering but soon realized his true passion was in Nursing.  

“Although I genuinely enjoyed learning calculus, thermodynamics, and process analysis, I realized that my heart and soul just wasn’t in it,” he said. “And so, I changed majors to Nursing and it felt a bit like a homecoming for me.”  

Tindel also went on to complete a minor in Psychology. Thanks to the continuous career development encouraged in the military, the transition from military to civilian life was fluid.  

 “The goal was always to keep pushing. Career development is a large part of the military lifestyle; you are trained and encouraged to push yourself and never get complacent. I continuously took classes while I was on active duty and left with an associate’s degree,” Tindel said.   

Financial support through the G.I. Bill and the Hazlewood Act made pursuing higher education an obvious choice for Tindel 

“The Navy very much set me up for success. I was a much better student this second time around. My time as a corpsman exposed me to many of the skills and concepts of nursing school.” 

Service-based learning, an integral part of Lamar University’s nursing curriculum, played an important role in his education. This approach combines both classroom learning and community service.  

“Service-based learning is a component of the nursing curriculum here at Lamar University and the JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing,” Tindel said. “It is an educational approach where students take the various nursing theories and principles that we learn in the classroom, apply it out in the community, and then reflect on our experiences to gain a deeper understanding.” 

His volunteer work at the Crisis Center of Southeast Texas, particularly with the suicide and sexual assault crisis hotline, is personal to him.  

“Suicide and sexual assault are something that I, unfortunately, have become very familiar with. My closest friend committed suicide during our sophomore year of high school, and I’ve seen firsthand the devastating and cascading effects it can have on friends and family,” Tindel shared.  “The military itself is certainly no stranger to suicides and sexual assaults either. Mandatory awareness education is required throughout each year." 

At the Crisis Center, he continued his advocacy work, providing crucial support through the hotline.  

“My time as a Department of Defense Victim Advocate saw me as a source of confidentiality and discretion,” Tindel said. “I manned a hotline phone, accompanied victims to hospitals, and I’ve even given testimony in court. I had both friends and strangers confide in me because of this position I held. It was a burden, but that burden is nothing compared to the physical and mental trauma that the victims go through.” 

 In his volunteer work, he embraced the compassionate principles of nursing, caring for people's mental and emotional needs as much as their physical health. His volunteer efforts were recognized with several awards, including Highest Achiever and Community-Based Service-Learning Elite Scholar by the JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing.  

“Admittedly, it feels odd,” Tindel said. “I wasn’t keeping track of my hours. Instead, I was just helping out by filling in at all of the empty shifts. It wasn't until the end of the semester that I compiled everything and saw that I had nearly 190 hours, far exceeding the minimum requirement of 70 hours. That was never my goal. I was just doing what I could to help out.” 

Receiving recognition for his volunteer efforts and academic achievements was a humbling experience.  

“Being awarded Highest Achiever and Community-Based Service-Learning Elite Scholar by the JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing is an honor. I am proud to have had the opportunity to continue this role that I started a decade ago, only this time to have it tied with the beginning of my new career,” he said.  “What I am really going to remember for years to come are all the phone calls that ended with a genuine thank-you.” 

His story serves as an inspiration, highlighting the importance of involvement in causes like the Crisis Center. He encourages others to volunteer, assuring them that they can make a difference in someone’s life with the right training and support.  

“My main hope is to get more people involved with these causes and to spread awareness. The Crisis Center is always in need of volunteers,” Tindel said. “Some people may be hesitant; I had classmates who saw it as too much responsibility, too stressful, or too morbid. However, the Crisis Center does an excellent job at preparing you for the role. You could be the difference in someone else's life.” 

Tindel also aims to clear any misconceptions about military service, emphasizing the diverse professional roles available beyond combat positions.  

“There are many misconceptions about what it is like to serve in the military, especially in professional roles. Not everyone is an infantry rifleman deployed to a battlefield. There are positions for lawyers, engineers, journalists, photographers, musicians, and more. I enjoyed it so much that I am eager to go back,” Tindel said. 

 He also emphasizes the importance of mental health and sexual assault awareness, urging those struggling to seek help and support from organizations like the Crisis Center of Southeast Texas.  

“If you are struggling with mental health or sexual assault, you do not have to keep it to yourself,” he said. “The Crisis Center offers counseling services and support groups, and you do not have to go through it alone." 

With graduation behind him, he is returning to the Navy as a commissioned officer. 

 “I am in the process of returning back into the Navy, this time as a commissioned officer,” Tindel said. “I fell in love with the structure and accountability, and I’m excited to do it as a registered nurse now.”  

His motivations have evolved, now focusing on providing security and benefits for his family.  

“My wife and I are looking to start a family, and so the reasons this time around are different,” Tindel said. “Instead of independence and adventure, it’s now about security and benefits." 

In sharing his journey, Joshua hopes to inspire others facing similar challenges to pursue their dreams, serve their communities, and never hesitate to ask for help. His story is a testament to resilience, dedication, and the profound impact of service—both in the military and in civilian life.